playing at the Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells until Saturday 9th July
Save the Last Dance for Me | Review
Currently on a nationwide tour across the UK is the latest jukebox musical from award winning writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, this one is called ‘Save the Last Dance for Me’. Like their previous offering Dreamboats and Petticoats, Save the Last Dance for Me celebrates the music from the 1960s with a feast of songs from the era strung together by a loose thread of a story.
The story this time is about two sisters from Luton, Jennifer and Marie who go on holiday without their parents for the first time. They arrive in the seaside town of Lowestoft and Jennifer the older sister looks forward to a bit of freedom and romance but it is younger sister Marie who happens to fall head over heels in love. As expected there is a hitch for she has fallen for Curtis, a member of the American Air Force who is stationed in a nearby base and who also happens to be coloured.
This is the 1960s, the American forces stationed in the UK were described as ‘oversexed, over paid and over here’ and racial tension is high. This would be a great storyline to explore but frustratingly it is underplayed and glossed over due to the main emphasis of this show being to enjoy the music and have a good time.
Luckily a good time we do have. The multifaceted cast sing and dance with gusto. Elizabeth Carter is no stranger to the show’s formula, having previously toured with Dreamboats and Petticoats as well as it’s sequel. Here she plays plays lovestruck Marie and beautifully smiles her way into the audience’s hearts. Marie’s love interest Curtis is played by Wayne Robinson Curtis whose singing voice excels stopping the show on several occasions. Top billing is Antony Costa [interview here] who play Curtis’ buddy Milton, a ladies man who has some great comedic moments as he grapples with the differences between the American and English languages. Another noteworthy mention is X Factor finalist Lola Saunders who plays Marie’s sassy sister Jennifer, it is hard to believe that Save the Last Dance for Me is her stage debut as she sings and dances comfortably at home.
Based entirely on the back catalogue of songwriters Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman meant that some of the songs were placed nicely into the plot whilst others were used as dance numbers played by the air force band giving the cast a good opportunity to show off their musical skills the two accapella numbers being a particular delight.
Save the Last Dance for Me is a nostalgic look at a bygone era. Audiences seeing this show can revel in the music and as the show draws to it’s inevitable happy ending, we are up on our feet boogying to the sounds of the 1960s having had a good night out.
Reviewer Sammi O’Neill
Save the last Dance for me is playing at the Assembly Hall in Tunbridge Wells until saturday 9th July before continuing on it’s tour.
New Victoria Theatre: Woking 19th-24th September – BUY TICKETS